P.E.I. libraries light up borrowers' lives with 20 new light therapy lamps

·3 min read

Prince Edward Islanders looking for some extra light this fall and winter can now check out light therapy lamps from their local library.

The P.E.I. Public Library service has 20 light therapy lamps available at locations across the Island.

"Light therapy lamps have shown that they can be an effective tool for individuals who suffer from SAD or other seasonal affective disorders, but sometimes they can be pricey," said Grace Dawson, a regional librarian with the P.E.I. Public Library Service.

"So we thought it might be a great opportunity to provide individuals with the access to those lamps just to try it out before they invest money in purchasing them themselves."

Dawson said the fall of 2020 seemed like the ideal time to add the light therapy lamps.

"It seems like this is the perfect time to launch them," Dawson said.

"Considering we are changing from summer into the fall, along with all of the different aspects and stressors that have gone along with this pandemic this year, it seems like a perfect opportunity and a perfect time to launch them at this moment."

P.E.I. Public Library Service
P.E.I. Public Library Service

Dawson said the money for the light therapy lamps comes out of the library service's collections budget. The kind they've acquired usually retail for between $70 and $100.

"It is an extra expense, but it's something that we think is valuable and it's something worth investing into for Islanders," Dawson said.

London Public Library
London Public Library

Non-traditional items added

Dawson said the library service had been looking to add light therapy lamps for a while.

"A lot of library systems throughout Canada and the United States do offer them," Dawson said.

"Over the past couple of years, I think we've all noticed that there's a connection between having a healthy body and a healthy mind, and mental health and your physical health, and that's something that we try to help preserve within the library."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Dawson said the library service started adding non-traditional items several years ago, to positive response from library users. New items included fitness kits, musical instruments, snowshoes and sensory kits for individuals who have autism and other sensory sensitivity conditions.

"We definitely keep track of the circulation numbers for everything that we've added, just to ensure that they are continuing to be popular and that they're successful," Dawson said.

"Using those numbers, we are able to judge what collections are becoming most valuable and what are valued the most by Islanders."

Craig Paisley/CBC
Craig Paisley/CBC

Dawson said the lamps, like other library materials, will be quarantined for 72 hours when they are returned, as part of the service's COVID-19 precautions.

'Extremely popular'

Halifax Public Libraries added light therapy lamps in November 2017 and they have been a hit with library users.

"It's been extremely popular ever since then. It's been about three years now and it's been popular pretty much every year," said Daniel Matto, access support specialist with Halifax Public Libraries.

"We're getting into the even busier season now, when the times change and the days get a little shorter. People start borrowing them even more, but they're popular all year round."

Halifax Public Libraries
Halifax Public Libraries

Matto said pre-pandemic, all of the libraries also had light therapy stations, which were also very popular.

"It was something you noticed because there was this beautiful, bright light coming from a corner of the room," Matto said.

"There was always somebody sitting there, especially, like I said, in the winter months." Matto said Halifax Public Libraries would aim to have the light therapy stations in place again once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

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